Thursday 08 June 2017, 09:14

Burruchaga’s Azteca ecstasy

  • Jorge Burruchaga pictured scoring the winner in the 1986 World Cup Final

  • Argentina won 3-2 after surrendering a 2-0 lead

  • Burruchaga: “It was the longest, most exhilarating run of my life”

There are nine minutes remaining of the 1986 FIFA World Cup™ Final. Argentina, 2-0 up and cruising just eight minutes earlier, have conceded two goals in quick succession. The momentum, it seems, is now firmly with Germany.

“We thought they wouldn't come back [after our second goal],” Jorge Burruchaga recalled. “But [Argentina’s coach, Carlos] Bilardo always told us that as long as the German players had a breath in their bodies, they'd keep fighting. And he was right.”

Yet it is at this critical moment, with their grasp on the Trophy loosening and insults and accusatory glances being exchanged by those around them, that Burruchaga turns to Diego Maradona. His words? "Right, let's go and win this thing."

That, of course, was just what they did, with Maradona’s defence-splitting pass three minutes later putting the midfielder through for a goal that would define his career. “When I saw the ball going towards Diego, I figured the German defence would try and catch us offside,” Burruchaga said in a 2007 interview with . “That's why I came from the opposite side and shouted to Diego, who almost had his back to me at the time. He later told me he hadn't heard me, which is quite possible. Diego used to play like he had eyes in the back of his head. So he fed the ball through to me and I took off.”

There was still plenty of work to do, and plenty of ground to cover. It would have been easy for Burruchaga to falter in the sweltering heat of the Azteca, or to lose his nerve as the goal – and the intimidating Harald Schumacher – loomed closer. As it was, a run he described as “the longest and most exhilarating of my life” ended in glory.

“It's incredible how many things people have told me about that goal,” he reflected. “They said I knocked the ball on too far in front of me; that I ignored [Jorge] Valdano shouting for it to my left; that [Hans-Peter] Briegel almost caught me. But all I was focusing on was the goal in the distance.

“What I could see clearly was Schumacher, as he was all in yellow, which not only made him easier to see, it also helped me work out how far I was from goal. It must have been a 40-yard run, which I finished with a right-foot shot. The plan was to chip it over him, but I ended up slotting it through his legs.

“To celebrate my goal, I dropped to my knees and raised my arms, and then I saw [Sergio] Batista. He was exhausted and went down onto his knees in front of me. I always say that because of his beard, it looked as if Jesus had appeared to tell us we were now destined to become world champions. When we went back to kick off again, Valdano said to me, ‘This time, yes - we're champions of the world’.”

Did you know? A shirt and boots from two of the stars of that thrilling Final take pride of place in the FIFA World Football Museum’s Mexico 1986 showcase.